Mobilize & Transform

The Graduate School of Social Work 2025 Strategic Plan

At the Graduate School of Social Work, we believe in social work’s potential to transform both individual lives and interconnected systems — to achieve our vision of actualized human potential; thriving, sustainable communities; and embodiment of equity across all communities.

To get there, we must embody equity ourselves, think and act with courage, and come together as a community of allies and accomplices with a shared resolve to advance social justice. Our strategic plan calls on us to build and strengthen connections within our school and with our many communities, mobilize our unique assets to advance social change, and become a more equitable and diverse school.

The mission of the Graduate School of Social Work is to promote social justice by advancing scholarship, education and community engagement that leads, connects, mobilizes and transforms.

Our Strategic Goals

Grounded by the University of Denver Impact 2025 strategic plan, four goals focus our work:

  • Engage

    Responding to pressing social issues

    We will expand and strengthen our connections to and from the community, proactively responding to pressing social issues and informing public policy. Strategies include:

    • Reinforce and expand our bridge to and from the community
    • Advance training and knowledge that influence public policy
    • Engage in scholarship and research that is driven by communities and rooted in social justice, continuing our influential and innovative research legacy
  • Envision

    Growing the scope and reach of our impact

    We will realize our vision of equity by investing in our faculty and staff, engaging our vast alumni network, and promoting the uniqueness of our school to grow the scope and reach of our impact and elevate the discipline and profession of social work. Strategies include:

    • Invest in meaningful relationships with alumni
    • Advance and celebrate the uniqueness of our school
    • Enhance our financial, physical, and human capital
    • Illuminate the vast fields of social work practice and impact in the global community
  • Learn

    Enriching our educational experience

    We will learn from listening to our community, and social work values will drive our research. As we concentrate on meeting workforce needs across a human-centered society, we will enrich our educational experience by preparing students to lead in the 21st century economy. Strategies include:

    • Create a dynamic learning experience for all members of our community
    • Meet workforce needs through specialized skill-based training
  • Transform

    Centering the voices of those who do not always have privilege

    We will hold ourselves accountable to our commitment to equity and justice, which will be evident in all aspects of our work. We will better meet the needs of those who have traditionally been excluded from institutions like ours, and we will center the voices of those who do not always have privilege. Strategies include:

    • Challenge and disrupt systems of oppression within and outside our school
    • Increase the accessibility of social work higher education for those who have historically been excluded
    • Invest in and elevate our unique programs

1,350+ More than 1,350 people have participated in our Science for Action Series since 2017.

$7.7 M In 2018–19, our faculty received $7.7 M in federal funding for 45 research projects.

No. 17 We are ranked No. 17 on the U.S. News & World Report list of Best Schools for Social Work.

Kate Smith

Support Our Transformation

We are strongest when we ourselves embody equity, when we are fearless in both ideas and actions, when we come together as a diverse community of allies and accomplices with a shared resolve to advance social justice. You can support this work by

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The Graduate School of Social Work in 2025

We are working to create a just society that fights exclusion, marginalization, discrimination, and social injustice while valuing equity and equality, cultural diversity, and freedom. A just society that attends to the needs of those who are vulnerable or oppressed and where every person has an opportunity to strive and to thrive. We also are working to create a more diverse school — in identity, culture and belonging, thought and action — that will train even more effective changemakers while generating discoveries that will create more just and equitable social systems.

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    Meeting Workforce Needs

    We are one of the nation’s best social work schools, known for our agility and ingenuity in meeting evolving workforce needs and educating social justice champions whose work catalyzes change.

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    Diversifying our School

    The diversity of our school better reflects the diversity of our country.

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    Rebranding Social Work

    Our alumni infuse social science and social work values throughout and across systems and sectors, redefining the public’s understanding of social work.

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    Shaping Social Policies

    We provide science-informed solutions to social problems, and the knowledge we create shapes and shifts social policies.

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    Challenging Systems of Inequity

    Through our partnerships, teaching, scholarship and advocacy, we create lasting change with individuals and families, in organizations and communities — across society — by challenging racial, economic, environmental, health and other systems of inequity and offering innovative, equitable, evidence-based solutions.

University of Denver Campus

With your support, we can transform GSSW and create a more just and equitable world.

Give Now

MSW student

The Planning Process

Guided by a faculty-led strategic planning committee, we launched our planning process in January 2017. Beginning with individual interviews, we gained insight into our strengths, challenges and future opportunities. We built on these with a series of roundtable sessions at which close to 250 interdisciplinary faculty, staff, students, alumni and community partners in Durango, Glenwood Springs and Denver shared their views of the Graduate School of Social Work today and their aspirations for the school. We also surveyed all of our stakeholders, and more than 500 people responded to our questions about possible goals and strategies. Finally, we solicited community feedback on draft goals and strategies. This iterative, inclusive process resulted in consensus around the transformative goals that drive our strategic direction.

Stories of Our Impact

Timebank volunteers
Community-Engaged Education

As part of a new community-engaged learning initiative, MSW students helped a community health partner to understand the complex concept of timebanks.

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NCWII Work Sites
Developing the Child Welfare Workforce

GSSW’s Butler Institute has been selected as a key partner in an expanded role with the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute, which aims to strengthen child welfare programs through workforce development.

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Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence and the Public Good

GSSW faculty are applying artificial intelligence to their own research and helping to guide the University’s efforts to harness AI for the public good.

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